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Thursday, May 30, 2024

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Sea Isle Introduces 2 Ordinances Targeting Rowdy Juveniles

Sea Isle City Logo - Use This One
Sea Isle City Logo – Use This One

By Vince Conti

SEA ISLE CITY – Mayor Leonard Desiderio prefaced the introduction of two ordinances by saying, “Enough is enough,” as he spoke of a need to better control lawlessness and rowdy behavior by large gatherings of juveniles during the summer season.
Sea Isle City Council voted to introduce the ordinances at its Feb. 28 meeting.
The first of the ordinances prohibits certain items, including backpacks, along the entire length of the city’s Promenade and beaches during certain hours.
The ordinance states, “The threat of ongoing congregation of youth and others that could turn violent mandates the adoption of this ordinance.”
The backpacks are prohibited from restricted areas from May 15 to Sept. 15 between the hours of 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. the following day. Exceptions for medical devices, news reporting equipment, fishing equipment, and police use are incorporated in the ordinance.
Violators of the ordinance will be given up to two warnings “where feasible.” Adults face a potential fine of $25 to $50 for a first violation and up to $100 for a third.
Juveniles will be given two curbside warnings and an opportunity to remove the item from the restricted area. Violations after the second warning may lead to a “stationhouse adjustment” and call to parents.
The second ordinance establishes a curfew for juveniles under 18. The ordinance states that those under 18 may not “be on any public street or in a public place between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless accompanied by the juvenile’s parent or guardian or unless engaged in, or traveling from, a business or activity.”
The ordinance also makes it unlawful for any parent or guardian to allow an unaccompanied juvenile to be on any public street or in a public place during these hours.
These types of local ordinances have run into constitutional challenges in the past. Desiderio said the city solicitor has researched the laws related to the ordinance provisions and feels confident the ordinance is constitutional.
The six-page ordinance lays out limits on a police officer’s discretion and lists exceptions under defined circumstances. The ordinance maintains the curfew in the offseason, but it begins at 11 p.m.
Penalties for juveniles violating this ordinance include two curbside warnings followed, if necessary, by a stationhouse adjustment and call to parents or guardian. No summons or juvenile charge will be issued.
A parent or guardian violating the ordinance is subject to a municipal court hearing and potential fines if convicted.
The ordinance also spells out the permissible actions by law enforcement given the state initiatives at juvenile justice reform and state attorney general directives on the matter.
These ordinances are expected to be up for a public hearing followed by a potential vote to adopt at the March 28 council meeting. 
Thoughts? Questions? Contact the author, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

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